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Schubert: Die Schone Mullerin / Behle, Bjelland, Koster

Schubert / Behle / Bjelland / Koster
Release Date: 08/31/2010 
Label:  Capriccio Records   Catalog #: 5044   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Sveinung BjellandDaniel [Tenor Vocals] BehleAb Koster
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCHUBERT Die schöne Müllerin Mark Padmore (ten); Paul Lewis (pn) HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907519 (68:24)


SCHUBERT Die schöne Müllerin; Auf den Strom 1 Daniel Behle (tn); Sveinung Bjelland (pn); 1 Ab Koster (hn) Read more class="BULLET12"> • CAPRICCIO 5044 (65:48)


Nine of the 20 songs in the song cycle Die schöne Müllerin are strophic, five of which have four or five strophes. One of the many challenges that both musicians must meet is to perform each strophe of a strophic song with a difference based on the poetic text in preference to strictly personal interpretive variety, and certainly in preference to sameness. On this basis alone, the Padmore and Lewis disc is preferable to that of Behle and Bjelland. The latter, despite their combination of a beautiful tenor voice and a sensitive keyboard complement, project a level of blandness that undermines adequate joy, excitement, and pathos wherever such emotions are demanded by the music. Padmore and Lewis project these emotional demands of the various songs with great finesse. Paul Lewis is more of an ideal partner to Mark Padmore than Sveinung Bjelland is to Daniel Behle. In the first three songs (“Das Wandern,” “Wohin?,” and “Halt!”), however, Lewis applies too much pedal, which blurs the fine textures, and Padmore uses too much vibrato. Sparing use of pedal and of vibrato results in a more authentic Schubert sound. Behle and Bjelland take “Ungeduld” (No. 7) at a fast tempo that properly projects the feeling of impatience, consonant with the song title.


At the conclusion of “Tränenregen” (No. 10), the phrase “es kommt ein Regen, ade, ich geh’ nach Haus” is sung by Padmore and by Behle without the coquettishness needed to contrast to the illusory imaginings of the lovestruck protagonist. Schubert ends this song in the minor to reinforce this contrast. Aksel Schiøtz and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in their recordings (both with Gerald Moore) supply the mocking, coquettish tone that I think better makes Schubert’s (and poet Wilhelm Müller’s) point. I made this same observation in Fanfare 32:5 in my review of Fritz Wunderlich’s Die schöne Müllerin. After “Pause” (No. 12) introduces the color “green,” “Mit dem grünen Lautenbande” (No. 13) injects the obsession with green that is better portrayed by Padmore than by Behle. Both tenors express with great effect the jealousy in “Der Jäger” (No. 14) that is prescient of the overt jealousy in the ensuing “Eifersucht und Stolz.” Schubert uses the minor in “Die liebe Farbe” (No. 16) and the major in the ensuing “Die böse Farbe” to show the emotional confusion and eventual hysteria of the protagonist. I hear this conflict and contradiction equally well from both performances. The final “Des Baches Wiegenlied” shows too little strophic distinction in both of these performances, which surprises me coming from Padmore and Lewis.


As a bonus the Behle/Bjelland disc offers one of Schubert’s autumnal songs, poet Ludwig Rellstab’s Auf den Strom (On the River), scored for voice, piano, and horn. This work prefigures Schubert’s more familiar, and apparently final, composition, Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, scored for voice, piano, and clarinet. These compositions extend the voice-plus-piano song form to that of voice-plus-chamber-group. This was more fully developed from its inchoate Schubert base by Arnold Schoenberg about 75 years later (e.g., the String Quartet No. 2, Ode to Napoleon, and Pierrot Lunaire ). Auf den Strom is given an especially appealing interpretation by three superb musicians, a most attractive horn sound being a bonus on top of a bonus.


German-born Daniel Behle initially studied trombone and music education before taking vocal classes taught by his mother, Renate Behle. He sings both opera and Lieder, and is a laureate of several international vocal competitions. Norwegian pianist Sveinung Bjelland studied at the Mozarteum in Salzberg and at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He has since been awarded numerous prizes and has appeared as soloist with leading Norwegian orchestras. The Dutch hornist Ab Koster has played as French horn and natural horn soloist with leading orchestras and chamber groups throughout Europe.


Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis are young British musicians who have achieved early renown as, respectively, operatic and Lieder tenor and pianist. Their first collaborative Schubert disc was Winterreise , and here we have their Die schöne Müllerin. Their Winterreise was highly acclaimed, and I suspect that the current collaboration will also win high praise. Paul Lewis has recorded the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for Harmonia Mundi.


Aksel Schiøtz and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (both with Gerald Moore, the former a monaural recording with poor sound quality) are my favorites for this song cycle. Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis, however, turn out a highly commendable product than is worthy of addition to one’s collection. If you prefer your Schubert Lieder to be more emotionally restrained and with only slight strophic distinctions, and if you want to add the rarely heard but most rewarding Auf den Strom to your collection, then the Daniel Behle and Sveinung Bjelland disc is a good one to have as well.


FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die schöne Müllerin, D 795/Op. 25 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Sveinung Bjelland (Piano), Daniel [Tenor Vocals] Behle ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Teldec Studio Berlin 
Length: 53 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Auf dem Strom, D 943/Op. 119 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Daniel [Tenor Vocals] Behle (), Ab Koster (Horn), Sveinung Bjelland (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Teldec Studio Berlin 
Length: 8 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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